Wednesday Wines – Episode 82 – A second ‘appointment’ with Billecart-Salmon
Episode 82 – 20th October 2021
A second ‘appointment’ with Billecart-Salmon
NV Billecart-Salmon, Les Rendez-vous de Billecart-Salmon No2. Pinot Noir Extra Brut, Champagne, France (£62.50, www.wanderlustwine.co.uk; £68.00, www.harveynichols.com; £67.50, www.champagnedirect.co.uk).
Just over a year ago, in Episode 25 of Wednesday Wines, I wrote up the first of Billecart’s Rendez-vous series, and I mentioned that they trailed a ‘watch this space for No2’ in their accompanying notes. Well, it has arrived, and as you would expect, this year’s literature also forewarns us, ‘See you soon for No3!’ and the front label even says this, too, in small print! A year has zipped by since the No1 Meunier was released and this time we are treated to a Pinot Noir extravaganza. Drawing on fruit from the historic Pinot Noir stronghold villages of Ambonnay and Verzenay, this wine relies on an extremely firm dosage of only 2 g/L to allow every facet of its fabulous Pinot Noir fruit to shine. Made from a base wine taken from 2014 and involving 22% reserve wine from 2012, this is every inch a mineral-soaked and dramatic creation. No oak enters the fray leaving the Pinot fruit to summon up every inch of its angular stance and its elemental forces in the glass. While the nose is gently floral and faintly red-fruit-kissed, the fruit on the palate is combative and challenging, and unlike the No1, which was drinking well on release, this is a restless wine with masses of energy and verve. The acidity alone makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention. Chief Winemaker Florent Nys is clearly having fun putting these vinous gems together for us to dissect! The build quality is every inch Billecart, and the elegance and precision are undeniable, but it is the freedom and cheekiness of this pair of releases that makes me smile. There are so many Champagne Houses releasing diffusion brands right now, and I have written about a few of the more notable wines in this Wednesday Wines column, and most are made by winemakers who are trying too hard to make an impression while at the same time rocking their own boat. These wines endeavour to amaze, yearning for oohs and aahs from their captive audience. In all honesty, all we want to do is drink them and enjoy them, but, all too often, simple enjoyment is the missing link. Both Rendez-vous No1 and No2 are stripped bare, with nowhere to hide, and it is this honesty and simplicity which makes them all the more engaging and mesmerising. They are a far cry from the upholstered, theatrical releases which clutter the shelves, trying hard to burst out of their non-sensical gift-packaging like pantomime dames. Rendez-vous No2 is all about the fruit and has nothing to do with the discreet wizardry behind the Billecart-Salmon cellar door. This is why I like them, and I venture this is why you will, too.